Thursday 19th to Friday 20th China to Sydney Australia

Beijing Travel Blog

 › entry 14 of 15 › view all entries

Woke early so David could go and get his dream lens. He worked hard yesterday getting all the CASH he needed. The problem was he had one evening to gather the money and the banks have a maximum limit per day. He collected the missing funds from the ATM down the street. We strolled through the streets of Beijing to the Canon shop were David had a ball. It was nice to see him so very happy. We then wandered to Tian’amen Sq as the day was almost smog free after the rain the day before. I wanted some more souveniers but when we arrived at the square, there were no flies anywhere! Just when you need some, there were all GONE! Bum!
Spent some time walking back and finished packing the room. No real dramas expect the over weight luggage and the extra bags. EEP! Still we soldiered on down stairs to wait for the bus ride to the airport.
Baijing Airport has no check-in counters when you walk in. To check in, you have to pass through passport control first. Odd way but there you are. I am sure they will have to review this in 2008. We queued and then realised that we had the computer, we could have done on-line reservations. D’OH! We spent a bit of time worrying about a lost couple, as Beijing airport is difficult to negotiate, but they eventually found us.
After spending a great deal of time in the economy queue, a lady dragged us off to the first class queue. The seating was terrible but we got through with 15 or so extra kilos of baggage without any excess luggage fees! YAY! We also had more than one piece of on-board luggage each but no-one worried about it. Very happy making. I spent a happy hour wandering the shops, mostly marvelling at the exhorbitant prices of things at the airport. US$150 for a small dragon statue, made of a light tin. Stupid pricing. Another lady was asking US$3000 for a leather bag. I did like the bag but not THAT much. Who would spend US$3000 on a handbag?
There were no english announcements and we had met up with Con and Maria and had meandered down to the gate, only to find ourselves suddenly surrounded by Chinese. Apparently we were just in the correct place for the economy call and managed to get the queue to form around us. We were all happy to finally be on our way home. It was a shame that none of us had a window seat  as David didn’t managed any photos.
The trip seemed short, as we watched ‘Meet the Robertsons” and ‘Blades of Glory’ then I played some super Mario. David watched the simpsons and the flight was suddenly over.
I tried to get some shopping in Singapore Airport, but there was only one hour and so I only managed a laptop bag and a t-shirt. By the time I had caught up with David, the check in queue had formed. I was very over security checks by now. We sat quietly and filled in our customs forms for Australia. I declared everything just in case I had to. We have so many restrictions that I find it easier to declare all items of dubious make. Again we missed out on the window Grr.....
The flight was much longer as the entertainment system was blown out by a steward that tried to reset one tv and managed to crash all of them. I did manage to watch a thing about the great wall of china, played Yatzee and got part way through a tv show prior to the crash. I gave up after that as I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Did get free Baileys and a Singapore Sling heehee. Another day passes....

Amost home. Didn’t get much sleep as I had jumpy legs so had to keep getting up and walking. The plane was very hot, I have no idea how anyone can sleep whilst they sweat. EW! I was extremely happy to look down, when our window sleeper awoke and raised the blind, and see Australian soil. Home at last ! We counted down to arrival in Sydney and I finished my Chinese Papers and a DVD magazine. I still couldn’t face a novel, my eyes were too tired to focus on the small print.
As we approached Sydney, we were on final approach and the plane had to go around as the tower reported debris on the runway so we got another tour of Sydney. From south to north, it was just lovely to watch the suburbs go by. We saw Appin and Wilton and could therefore trace a path to Picton. Our next attempt was more successful and everyone wanted to jump out of the plane. David and I made ourselves go last. Passport check was easy and the baggage claim also uneventful. I was happy to see all three bags made it to Australia successfully. (Relieved!)
A race was on for the customs queues, our queue managed to turn itself around and join partway down to the other queue. AARGGH! We waited patiently but I was surpised that there were only two counters open and 4 flights of people. Our flight was totally full so I would assume the other flights may have been as well. We did get lucky and someone open another counter and we zoomed to the front YAY!” Do you have food?” “Yes”...”what sort?” “Chocolate...UM..Nesquick...” “any soil on your shoes?” ‘No” “Anything else?” “Well Yes, a rabbit hat...wooden stands for plates etc, leather shoes wool felt” Put your bags on the x-ray” Thank you. That was it! Hooray for x-ray! I was happy we declared it all. Imagine getting a random check and they find all that stuff. The fines would be frightening.
We pranced down the ramp, delighted with our light treatment at the hands of customs and saw....David’s Mother and Peter! Always nice to see friends waiting for you. :D Thanks guys! My mother turned up a short time later and we got our rail passes and David got his beloved mobile phone. (Mine is missing)
Peter escorted us to the station and left us at Wolli creek. So nice to be home.
Mother allowed us to drop our bags then asked David to start packing her bags for Ambervale. Poor David fell asleep in the sofa.

And that is IT! Possibly missed a lot of stuff but This diary will have to do.  Any questions? Just ask!
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A free day and the last day. Tomorrow we get to the airport (Hopefully) and fly to Singapore.
David set out a mice interary that had me back at the hotel in the arvo and him off doing train hunting. A wise interary, it went off smoothly.
I spent a pleasant afternoon with Shawnna online, as I couldn’t access Livejournal. Grr. I managed to catch up on 4 days of diary keeping, at least in electronic form. I have to catch up in my diary as well.
I wandered downstairs to the shop that was going out of business. They really were going out of business and I ended up spending a lot of money on gifts. I even got a silk smoking Jacket with gold embroidered Dragons in Scarlet for me. Unusual that something in China fits me. I was delighted at the purchases and thrilled to have some real things to post to people. The next shop (Same owners) was also closing and it was a jewelery/Statuette shop. They had Jade carvings, stone and some delightful bronze figures. The apple of my eye was a large carved Jade Dragon. Retail ticket price was ¥58000 yes three zeros. EEK! Divide by 7.5 (on the day) for US$ and 6.5 for AU$ and you will see my eek and i went to flee. The lady reminded me that things were on sale and a lot of the zeros could fall away. OK I ask, how many She will charge me ¥5800 for it and I could have it. I sadly walked away as it was still far too much money and besides how would I carry such a large piece on the plane??
When David returned to the hotel in the evening, he asked me what was on my mind, and he dragged me back to the store to see what he could bargain. He knows I saved all my money to buy fabulous dragons for the house, and China was the place I had been itching to go. HE managed to get the lady down to ¥3000 which can to almost AU$490. A fortune, but manageble as I had been saving for such a purchase. Alas, the bank disagreed and (as David had left to catch the bank prior to closing)I stood the humiliated in front of the reception people. (IN China, the cashiers are seperate, and so you negotiate, get an invoice then go to the cashier, then get your chit stamped to return to the sales people to pick up the item.) In tears (I was hot and tired OK!) I fled to my room. David came home and saw I was depressed, but I was resigned to no buying that statue. There was no way we coudl afford the excess luggage. He arranged with some friends to come to Sizzler with us (We were sick of Chinese food and wanted Australian Beef and yes they sell it at Sizzler in China). He then snuck down whilst I had a bath and bought the statue. I can tell you guys how generous David can be. He couldn’t really afford it and he wanted his Canon lens so this would have eaten into his dream purchase. The statue will not represent much more in this household, than just protection and security.
I couldn’t believe it.
On our way to the restaurant, we walked into our guide. She was going to meet her husband at the station. What are the chances of bumping into a person you know in a city that has almost the same population at Australia as a whole??
Had a wonderful dinner, and my Aussie Beef was tender and lovely. The sizzler here, doesn’t NOT have unlimited drinks :(, NOT Dessert bar :( and is slightly bossy but the 4 aussies in a booth couldn’t have been happier. I even left a wild release on the cashier’s desk.
A perfect ending to our stay in China.

Off the the Great Wall the Yellow section. They tell us that no a lot of tourists go there. Who knows if these claims are true. The drive was two hours or so. I fell asleep. We travelled through a lot of mountainous and narrow countryside and if not for the smog, there would be numerous lovely photographs.
As we arrived at the wall we saw a billboard that explained that this part was built 1400 years ago. There have been renovations since then, but we found many parts of orginal wall. It was actually made of yellow stone, but a lot of newer parts have the black bricks. Orginally Sticky rice was used where today there is cement. I always knew sticky rice was like glue!
After walking in the heat and the stairs at the wall are very very steep, some needing absailing gear to safely travel down, I gave up and went down by horse. Peter also went down by horse, but the people who remained thought we got it easy. The horses had to go down extremely steep terrain that was a delight to be in. The tempertaure under the trees is cooler but still steamy and the ground very rocky and slippery. It took a lot of stomach muscles and knees to stay in a position that didn’t shift the horse’s centre of gravity forwards and make us both tumble down the hill.
The wall walkers reported that the wall got even steeper even though it was down hill. My knees would have died completely. I was happy and they said he wad walked most of the distance. Not for the faint hearted!At Lunch, I happened to mention that the Russian T-shirt that David was wearing, was shrinking as he had sweated so much that the shirt was saturated. (We all were as the day was hot and mugggy and High polution) Everyone turned to him and stared for a while. They then took turns in measuring how far the t-shirt had shrunk on his body. At the funny thing was, the t-shirt WAS actually shrinking as it dried. Hysterical fun after a hard day’s hiking/horse riding)
Back to the city for a shower and off to a Peking Duck Restaurant. Nice duck but the rest of the meal was not as good a previous meals.
Continues to be hot and shitty with continued crappy comming down on a weather front. It is hotter than a snake’s ass in a wagon rut!
The morning was a fascinating walk to Tian’anmen Sq and the Forbidden City. Tian’anmen Sq is very very busy with school groups, tour groups and locals teeming into the one locality. There are beggars, sellers , peddlars and police everywhere. We started calling the peddlers “Flies” The flies are coming! You shoo them away and they keep coming back. Some times with friends all wanting you to buy their stuff. They even talk themselves down. You keep walking until they, 1. Give up or 2. Get to a deal you can’t refuse. The they change the deal after you pay. Can’t really work up the enthusiam to get upset about it.
It would be too hard to diary all impressions of the Forbidden city, I have studied the women’s lives in the city for a long time, so it was a magic place for me. It was a shame that thousands of people were in the same place too as we have to fight tooth and nail to get to a door to have a look in. Also th Forbidden city is undergoing renovations so there where temples that I was disappointed to missout on. The hardest part was the city has no trees. The tree is a simbol of capitivity and so the Emperor would not be campitve there are no trees. It makes the whole place very hot and the few shady places had people crammed into every inch. The icecreams are nice and cheap thank goodness. The gardens at the back of the city in the women’s area are cool and lovely. Such a difference in temperature a few tree make!
We dodged some more flies awaiting us at the back exit of the Forbidden city to be picked up by the bus. Parking is so bad in Beijing, that the bus was a few blocks away and some flies chased us all the way to the bus. Very annoying. No should be sufficient.
A hald hour later and we were at the Summer Palace. This place is so beautiful and some buildings are still as there were in the time of the Dragon Lady (Who died in 1908) Not everything is renovated and new. There are some delighfully old paintings fading in the sun and almost every surface is painted but no two paintings are the same. You have to see it to get any sort of perpective. The temple on the hill is awe inspiring and there are wondeful meditative places to sit, if you can get the peddlers to leave you alone. We started to point to others inthe group to send the most annoying to just to get 5 minutes peace. Cruel but necessary. We took a dragon boat back to the bus for the vast sum of 10 yuan. (AU$1=6.6Yuan)
We were again literally bathed in sweat, and were extremely grateful for the airconditionned bus. As soon as we arrived at the hotel everyone raced for the elevators to get a shower asap. Dinner was at another local restaurant.
photo by: Eric